UK-funded project leads to a better EV battery
Axeon, a Dundee-based independent supplier of lithium-ion batteries, says a project it undertook with two other companies, Ricardo and Allied Vehicles, has succeeded in developing a new battery for use in electric cars that offers a more than 35 per cent improvement in range compared with batteries weighing the same and employing existing technologies. The parties involved are said to currently be in “active discussions” about the commercialisation of the new technology.
In 2009, UK business-led government body the Technology Strategy Board awarded the consortium led by Axeon over £680,000 for the development project; total funding of more than £1.3million went towards developing a high energy density battery system for an emission-free electric vehicle. The result is a battery that utilises Nickel Cobalt Manganese (NCM) electrochemistry, which Axeon says theoretically requires 50 per cent less volume and 30 per cent less mass when compared to Lithium Iron Phosphate chemistry (at cell level).
According to Axeon, a key goal of the project was to confirm these cell level benefits pass through to the battery pack level when taking into account overall packaging, cell retention, cooling and interconnects, Battery Management System (BMS) components and overall system functionality. The company says the three development partners have now delivered an advanced demonstrator that has been deployed into a test vehicle, increasing its range, functionality and performance. Thus, Axeon states, the project has confirmed the feasibility of replacing Lithium Iron Phosphate technology with NCM and shown that the majority of cell level benefits migrate to battery pack level.
The demonstrator pack uses NCM “pouch” cells that have been packaged in modular building blocks. The new battery also integrates an automotive BMS developed by Ricardo. This works with multiple cell chemistries, has active balancing and delivers diagnostic and prognostic information to the vehicle control system. Stated benefits the new battery provides include increased ground clearance, better driver experience due to improved weight distribution and more power.
“This project has been a remarkable success and reinforces Axeon’s position as a leading provider of advanced battery technology,” commented Axeon CEO Lawrence Berns. “This new battery represents a real step forward in the development of electric vehicles and is highly versatile, being suitable for applications for many vehicle manufacturers and across a wide range of platforms.”
John Laughlin, the Technology Strategy Board’s Low Carbon Vehicles programme manager, added: “We are delighted that our investment in this consortium’s project has yielded such impressive results, as the size and weight of batteries relative to their capacity has been a barrier to the wider take-up of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Investing in such cutting-edge development helps to put the UK at the forefront of low carbon vehicle technology.”